Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Prophet Moses: 19 February 2013 (transferred from Sunday)


Moses was born on the 7th of Adar and died on the 7th of Adar, which is the 17th of February this year.  As we know, after Moses was three months old, he was placed in a basket and found by Pharaoh’s daughter. He was raised as a prince of Egypt until he was forty years old, when he killed an Egyptian for mistreating a Hebrew.  Fleeing Egypt, he stayed with Jethro, a priest of Midian, and married his daughter Zipporah.

At the age of 80 Moses, or Moshe had his encounter with the burning bush and was given the charge of leading the children of Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land.  We see Moshe as a man of great faith.  He follows God’s commands, and great miracles follow.  Sadly the Hebrew people continued to test and try Moshe as well as God.  After forty years in the wilderness leading the children of Israel, Moshe died in the wilderness, just outside of Canaan. It is said of Moses (Moshe) that there will never be another prophet like him, who spoke to God face to face, and that he was the humblest of people. 

Collect:  Yahweh Shabbaoth, you raised up your prophet Moshe to free the Hebrew people and to talk to you face to face.  Grant that we freed from our sins by the blood of Yeshuah would know the liberty of truly being your friends and children as Moshe was.  This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Martin Luther: 18 February 2013, Presbyter, Reformer

Martin Luther was born November 11th  of 1483.  Educated by his father to be a lawyer, instead he became a monk.  Luther, as many saints had a great knowledge of his sinfulness and unworthiness before God.  He challenged the Roman Catholic Church on the sale of indulgences, and promoted the view of justification by faith, and the priesthood of all believers.  Condemned and excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church, he refused to recant unless proved wrong by scriptures. 

Luther, a great scholar encouraged the German Catholic custom of choral singing and wrote many hymns in German, the most well known being, “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” based on Psalm 91.  In addition to hymns, Luther (influenced by the ideas of Hus) translated much of the Old and New Testaments into German, and also translated the church services into German.  As well he provided two catechisms to guide people in faith.  Participating in the dissolution of Monasteries, he took as a wife an ex nun, whom he loved dearly.  As many in the church, he made mistakes, but his main focus was on God, and his ideas continue to affect the church even today. He is not only the lead man in the reformation, but the main cause of the counter-reformation as well.

Psalm 46
Isaiah  55: 6-11
Romans 3:21-28
John 15:1-11

Collect:  Dear Lord, you raised up Martin Luther to challenge the church in its errors to reform its ways.  Guide the church today that she may always be ready to correct errors and seek you in your word and sacraments.  This we ask in the name of our Lord Yeshuah haMoshiach, who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Saints Cyril and Methodius: Missionaries


Cyril and Methodius were respectively born in Thessalonica in 827 and 826.  Their father died when they were about fourteen and their uncle, took over caring for them.  Under his guidance, Cyril came to Constantinople to study in the University, and Methodius became an abbot (head of a monastery) in Constantinople.  Cyril was particularly adept at linguistics and spoke Greek, Latin, Slavonic and Arabic among others, and began teaching. 

In 826 Prince Rastislav of Greater Moravia asked the Emperor and Patriarch of Constantinople to send missionaries for his Slavic subjects.  Cyril and Methodius were chosen and began by training helpers, and then began translating the Bible into Slavonic, for which they devised the Glagolictic Alphabet which contained letters for sounds found in Slavonic, but not in Greek.  This Alphabet is still used by the Russian and other Orthodox churches today.  The Cyrillic alphabet used in Russian and in the Balkan Peninsula today is derived from the Glagolictic.  Unfortunately they were opposed by German ecclesiastical authorities who opposed the Slavonic mass.

The brothers wisely sought the help of the Roman Church in their endeavors, which helped the mission to continue.  Rome sent them Bishops to ordain some of their helpers, who celebrated the Eucharist in Old Church Slavonic.  Cyril, feeling the time of his death was approaching, became a monk and died shortly thereafter on 14 February 869. Methodius continued the work in Pannonia, which led to conflict with the Archbishop of Salzburg.  The Pope made Methodius Archbishop of Sirmium (an older title) to supersede the authority of the Bishop of Salzburg.  Sirmium included not only Greater Slavonia, but Panonia and Serbia as well.  The Archbishop of Salzburg was so annoyed that he managed to get Methodius imprisoned for two and one half years.  Through the influence of the Pope, he regained his freedom and authority, but not the right to celebrate the Eucharist in Slavonic.  After Methodius’s death in 885 most of his followers were banished and ended up in the Bulgarian Empire, where under the authority of Constantinople they continued their work, which eventually extended as far east as Kiev.  This work also laid the foundation of ideas later to reach Jan Huss, Martin Luther and others of preaching to the people in their own language.

The story of Cyril and Methodius is a sad story of how petty jealousy, politics, lack of missionary zeal, and a lack of considering the pastoral needs of the people can get in the way of our true mission.  To the credit of Cyril and Methodius, they laid down the groundwork of evangelising Eastern Europe in language understood by the people.  They sowed the seed, others reaped the harvest.  We should learn to persevere from them, and also learn not to let political expedients derail us from the imperative of proclaiming the Gospel. 

Collect:  Lord our God, you raised Cyril and Methodius to proclaim the Gospel in a hostile land and gave them intellectual gifts to translate, create an alphabet, and teach, so raise up in this and every land bishops and ministers who are willing to persevere to the end in proclaiming the Gospel of our Lord Yeshuah haMoshiach.  This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Transfiguration Sunday: 10 February 2013


On this feast day we remember an event mentioned in three of the Gospels. Yeshua took Kephas, Yakob, and Yohanes to the mountain to pray  Suddenly the appearance of Yeshua was transformed, and they see Moshe and Eliyahu talking with Yeshua. (they are lying on the ground in fear. Kephas (Peter) shouts out, we should build three tabernacles (tents) one for each of you. Yeshua is hidden by a cloud, and they hear a voice, "This is my Son, listen to him.

Let us remember this is a very special event. Yeshua is on his way to Yerushalayim to be crucified. Kephas, Yakob and Yohanes (Peter, James and John) are the three disciples of the inner circle, who alone were present with Yeshua for certain miracles. Moshe (Moses) represents the Law, and Eliyahu (Elijah) represents the prophet. They are there as witnesses that Yeshua completed the law and the prophets. Yeshua glows with the uncreated divine light demonstrating that he is God. The apostles naturally are terrified, which is the reaction of all who come face to face with the living God and his power, as we are convicted of our sins. Naturally also, they want to keep this mountain top experience, hence Kephas wanting to build shelters for the three.

OF course the problem with the mountain top, is it is the mountain top. It is not something we can hang on to. God grants visions, signs and wonders not to those who are strong, but to those who are weak and need building up in faith. Once we have been built up in faith, we need to go to the valleys to do our work, in the case of Yeshua, to Yerushalayim to be crucified, in the case of the Apostles to go from Spain (possibly Britain) to India to proclaim the faith and die for it.

Lastly, God tells the Apostles to listen to Yeshua. Those of you who are parents, what do you usually mean when you tell your kids to listen to you? Is it not a request for obedience? Le us then ask God to fill us with the power of the Ruach haKodesh so that we may be transfigured by Yeshua, that others may see him in us, and that he would strengthen us to proclaim the Gospel.

Lord, on the mount of Transfiguration, the glory of the Father truly shone upon you.  Let your power so overshadow us, that conquering sin and death in our lives, that we would join you in healing the sick, raising the dead, proclaiming the kingdom.  This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen. (gold)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ankar, Apostle to the North, 6 February 2013 (Transferred from Sunday

Anskar, Apostle to the North

Anskar, a Saxon was born in 801 in what would be modern day Picardy.  In 826, when King Harald of Denmark asked for missionaries, Anskar, a Benedictine monk, was one of those who was sent out.  Sadly, he was ridiculed by his peers for his missionary fervor. Later he also led a group to Sweden.  He built school, and had dealings with the Vikings, who were a tough lot to evangelise, because they thought the breaking of oaths to be honourable.  Because of the precariousness of the political situation, he returned to Hamburg, of which he became the first Archbishop.  He helped consecrate Gotbert, the first Bishop of Sweden and is held to be the Apostle to the Swedish people.  We remember Anskar most for being Apostle to the North, (Denmark, Sweden and Iceland) and because despite the fact he did not see the fruit of his works, he continued his labour.  May we do likewise.

Collect:  Lord Yeshua, your servant Anskar was called to Denmark and Sweden to proclaim the Gospel, and you gave him strength to continue despite disparagement and deterrence from those around him.  Grant to us and our clergy like steadfastness of mind to obey your call, and trust in you for the seed planted to grow.  This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Martyrs of Japan

Martyrs of Japan

The Martyr of Japan have a story to tell of what it truly is to be Christian.  Jesuits first brought the faith to Japan in the 16th century and were followed soon after by the Franciscans.  The church grew rapidly, and it is estimated that by the end of the 16th century that there were more than three hundred thousand believers in Japan.  Unfortunately there were problems due to rivalries between Franciscan and Jesuits and because of intrigues by both the Spanish and Portuguese governments.*

Concerned, the Japanese government had 6 Franciscans and twenty of their converts, crucified and then stabbed at Nagasaki, on 5 February 1597.  A nobleman tempted the youngest, a boy to renounce his faith, but instead the boy asked to be shown his cross and embraced it.  The church grew.  From 1614 until 1854 a programme of persecution began, in which Christians were crucified, buried alive, and tortured.  Churches were destroyed.  But the Japanese Christians proved true martyrs indeed (the word martyr means witness).  Despite a lack of clergy and contact with the official church, there were still practicing Christians, worshipping underground, when contact with the west was reestablished. 

Two things are to be learned.  First, we should all learn from the example from the Japanese Christians, and persevere, no matter what.  The second thing we should learn, is that it is very important to concentrate on establishing indigenous pastors from early on, so that if the missionaries are driven out, the church may continue on in its fullness.

Collect:    Heavenly Father, despite much suffering, your church in Japan continued through persecutions.  Grant that we observing their perseverance, would have the courage to follow where they lead the way, proclaiming Christ with our very lives.  This we ask in his most blessed name.  Amen, 

*It is likely that Christianity reached Japan centuries earlier by means of the Assyrian Church.

Cornelius the Centurian: 4 January 2013


Cornelius was a centurion, that is an officer in charge of 100 men. He was considered to be the first gentile convert to the church, an event of great importance, as to this point the church was all Jewish.

Cornelius was already a sympathizer with the Jewish faith, and through a dream was lead to send for St. Peter.  St. Peter, as well was guided by a vision that he should accompany the servant and travel to Cornelius’s house.  Peter was surprised to see that the Holy Spirit fell on the whole household, and suggested that since they were saved by faith, and had received the Holy Spirit, then the waters of baptism could not be denied to them.  Cornelius went on to be bishop of either Caesarea or Scepsis in Mysia, or possibly of both at different times. 

Collect:  Blessed Saviour, by dreams and visions you ensured that Cornelius the Centurion would be the first Christian of the Goyim.  Grant that your Spirit would continue to work in miraculous ways to invite all Jews and Goyim into the kingdom.  This we ask in the name of Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.

(Note:  The picture is anachronistic, Cornelius would have been baptised by immersion.